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Long-awaited announcement by BC Housing on emergency shelter for Salmon Arm

Shelter to be open at Downtown Activity Centre from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily
Salmon Arm’s Downtown Activity Centre will be the site of a temporary shelter until April 30, 2023. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

The long-awaited announcement regarding a new emergency shelter in Salmon Arm has materialized.

BC Housing issued a news release Jan. 17 stating a new temporary winter shelter located at the Downtown Activity Centre will be open from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m., accommodating approximately 20 people.

The shelter is expected to open this week.

“We recognize the urgent need to offer safe, indoor housing to those currently sheltering outside in Salmon Arm,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “While we have invested in more than 5,200 shelter spaces across B.C. this winter season, we recognize shelters are not a long-term solution to homelessness, and through BC Housing we continue to look for opportunities for more supportive housing in the region.”

The space has been leased from Jan. 1 to April 20, 2023.

Read more: BC Housing confirms long-awaited lease signed for emergency shelter in Salmon Arm

Meanwhile, BC Housing says it will continue searching for an appropriate location for a permanent shelter in Salmon Arm.

People staying at the new shelter will have access to warm meals, hygiene facilities, an off-site warming centre at the former Lighthouse emergency shelter from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and referrals to health services.

Read more: People without homes in Salmon Arm to get relief from cold with Salvation Army Café

Read more: ‘They need to be in’: Woman who lived rough in Salmon Arm worried about people tenting

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Read more: As temperatures plummet, showers at warming centre in Salmon Arm appreciated

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Shuswap-Revelstoke, will operate the new shelter. CMHA operates a number of different housing programs in Salmon Arm, including supportive housing and housing for families and seniors.

“We are pleased that we have been able to secure a temporary space for a winter shelter at 451 Shuswap St.,” said Dawn Dunlop, executive director. “This has been the result of many partners working together. We are excited to open the space and look forward to welcoming and supporting people in our community.”

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison expressed his appreciation.

“Thank you to our partners BC Housing and CMHA Shuswap/Revelstoke for helping to provide a safe, warm, sleeping space for those most in need,” he said.

The shelter is the result of a partnership between the province, CMHA and the City of Salmon Arm.

The Salvation Army closed the doors to its emergency shelter in May 2023, so BC Housing has been searching for an appropriate site since then. A Salmon Arm resident, who wished to remain anonymous, arranged to have a sea can brought to 3rd Street SE, across the street from a long-standing tent encampment, because of his concern for people freezing during -20 C temperatures at night. The heated sea-can along with two porta-potties have been parked along 3rd Street SE since Dec. 20, 2022.

Read more: ‘It’s so wrong’: Inaction as temperature drops spurs Salmon Arm resident to set up sea can shelter

The province, through BC Housing, is providing operating funding for the shelter.

“While shelters play an important role, particularly during extreme weather, the Province’s goal is to move people experiencing homelessness into permanent, secure housing. Since 2017, the Province has more than 36,000 affordable homes delivered or underway, including 138 homes in Salmon Arm,” concludes the province.
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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